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High-Tech Tools for Keeping Seniors Safe, Pick the Right Paint Color the First Time and Send Sparks Flying this Valentine’s Day with Romantic Mood Lighting

  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Here to help you tackle your home improvement project. What’s on your to-do list for today? Let’s help you get it started. Pick up the phone and help yourself, first, by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up this hour on the program, do you have older family members that live alone? Well, there’s an app for that. We’ve got tips on a new app that can help keep those older family members safe in their homes, even when you can’t be there.

    LESLIE: And painting is a great way to update your home. But if you’re putting it off because you’re not sure which color to go with, we’ve got tips to picking the perfect shade for your space.

    TOM: And Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Could your home use some added romance? We’ll teach you how to set the mood with the right kind of lighting. If you don’t know where to start, we’ll tell you, coming up.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a Husky 11-Piece Screwdriver Set and a 20-Piece Ratcheting Wrench Set. Husky tools aren’t just engineered to last forever, they are guaranteed to last forever. It’s a prize set valued at $60.

    TOM: And it’s a great addition to any tool collection but especially fantastic for the caller who wins it free this hour just by talking to us on air. So pick up the phone, give us a call. We want to hear from you and answer your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Nancy in Massachusetts is dealing with a garage that’s got other plans than closing. What’s going on there?

    NANCY: I have a dilemma about what to do about the door. It’s just not closing properly and sometimes, it doesn’t even want to go up and down, never mind when it comes down it wiggles left to right, left to right until it gets to the bottom.

    TOM: This is on a garage-door opener?

    NANCY: Oh, oh, yes, yes.

    TOM: So when it goes up and down, it shimmies in the opening?

    NANCY: Yes. And the closing.

    TOM: So, generally, the rollers on the side of the garage door are failing when that occurs. They’re ball-bearing rollers and when they get stuck, then they get sort of hung up on the way down and that’s what makes the door sort of vibrate and puts a lot of resistance on it, too. And that may be the reason it’s not closing all the way or closing evenly.

    It sounds like the door is pretty old. And your options are to replace all the hardware and try to, you know, realign the door to get it working right or just replace the door and the door opener. If it’s that old and that sort of rickety, I might lean towards just a replacement. The new doors today are actually a lot lighter than the old doors and they work really smoothly.

    I just put two on in the garage, I guess, about 8, 9 months ago now and I’m really happy with them. And I used to have really heavy, hardboard doors on this garage and now I have nice, factory-painted steel doors that look really good, really sharp and just close flawlessly every single time.

    NANCY: Well, this is one of those metal doors.

    TOM: It is? OK. But it’s an older metal door?

    NANCY: Yeah. And I put Boeshield on the tracks to try to get it to roll down properly.

    TOM: Yeah. But if the hardware has failed – even if you’re lubricating the tracks, if the hardware has failed, it’s not going to work right.

    NANCY: So what would you recommend? A new door or just get somebody over to do the hardware?

    TOM: I’d get a new door and a new opener.

    NANCY: Yeah, OK. I don’t want to put good money after bad.

    TOM: Exactly. I think – who knows if you can find the old hardware to match and everything? I’d just get a new door and a new opener. I think it’d be worth it.

    NANCY: OK. Very good advice. I appreciate it very much.

    TOM: Thank you, Nancy. Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Georgia where J.W. has a question about heating. What can we do for you?

    J.W.: I paid some people to come out and clean my chimney. And they asked me what did I want to do. I said, “Well, I’ll put a wood-burning stove there.” But I have a coal-burning chimney and they said I couldn’t do it. And I want to know, can I put a wood burner where my old burner is set and use the same chimney?

    TOM: It might be that the chimney is too small for wood burning.

    J.W.: Oh.

    TOM: So it may be a physical space issue with the size of the chimney itself, J.W. Not so much that you can’t physically do it but the venting may not be correct if the chimney isn’t – is too small. Or the chimney may not be lined. I don’t know how old your house is but it sounds to me like there’s a safety issue.

    J.W.: Ah, so I’d be better off just to do it as they suggested: to cut a hole in the roof to get that special insulated – what is it, aluminum?

    TOM: I rarely agree with chimney sweeps because they give people bad advice a lot. But in this case, I tend to agree with them. If you were to start clean and just put in a regular wood-burning stove, you’re going to be able to get, first of all, a wood-burning stove that’s very, very efficient, as opposed to a fireplace insert, which would be less efficient. And you’ll have complete control over the venting and you’ll be able to do it in a very, very safe and reliable way.

    J.W.: OK. Now, is there a special place where I should put a wood-burning stove? It’s a six-room house.

    TOM: You could pretty much put it anywhere you want as long as you do it safely. There are standards that are established for how to install a wood stove in a safe location. It has to do with clearance to combustibles and that sort of thing.

    Look, J.W., it’s not a do-it-yourself job. If you’re asking those kinds of questions, it’s definitely not the kind of project you want to do on your own. I would get a pro to help you with.

    Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. We’re here to give you a hand with whatever it is you are working on at your money pit. So give us a call, because I promise you spring is not that far away and you’re going to want to be outside doing nice things. So let’s get your inside looking tip-top before you want to get outdoors, 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, falls in the home are a very real problem for older Americans. There’s a new, high-tech way, though, to keep those falls from happening. We’ll tell you more, after this.

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    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we talk to you on the air this hour, you could win the Husky 11-Piece Screwdriver Set and a companion 20-Piece Ratcheting Wrench Set.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Husky’s modern handle and their body design is going to let you work in really tight areas without sacrificing accuracy. Our winner will never be short a screwdriver again. The 11-Piece Screwdriver Set includes 5 slotted screwdrivers, 4 Phillips and 2 offsets.

    TOM: And combined with the Ratchet Wrench Set, it comes to 31 pieces. It’s a prize valued at 60 bucks but it’s going out to one lucky caller. So give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Margie in Delaware on the line with a flooring question. What can we do for you today?

    MARGIE: Well, we had carpeting down here from the 70s, in this home that we moved into. So, we pulled up the carpeting and there’s beautiful hardwood floors underneath. Except wherever the wood strips with the nails were that were holding the carpet down, there’s a bunch of black holes where the nails were. So how can we clean that up?

    TOM: Yeah. The strips are called “tackless” and what’s happened is the nails have oxidized, so you get some rust and other types of corrosion that form on the metal and react with the wood. And it leaves that sort of black stain. So what you have to do is sand the wood floors.

    You sand the wood floors, you’ll get rid of most of that black stain that’s showing around the top of the hole. And then you can fill in the holes with a wood putty that matches the floor. Sand it again and you’ll just about cover them. You’re still going to see a little bit of them but they will not be obvious.

    Right now, they’re painfully obvious, I know. But if you sand the floors and then fill them in and sand it again and finish it, it will blend in.

    MARGIE: That’s great. It’s got to be better than what it looks like now.

    TOM: No, it’s nice. Think of that carpet as a beautiful drop cloth that protected those floors for all those years.

    MARGIE: Yeah.

    TOM: And now you get a chance to enjoy them again.

    MARGIE: OK. Thank you so very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Margie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Louis in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    LOUIS: Well, I’m starting my pressure-washing project, so getting ready to. And I want a product that I can spray on the eaves of my house and on the concrete, like my porches and driveway. And the north side of the house here in Florida – it’s always the north side that gets a little stuff on the bricks down low. And if there’s one product that I can spray on all of it to help break the stuff down, that would help me tremendously.

    TOM: So, are we trying to remove moss, mildew, algae, mold, what?

    LOUIS: Any of that, yeah. It’s more of just the coloration on the eaves: you know, the bug eggs and a little bit – and it’s not really moldy, it’s not really dark. But the eaves, they’re white. And the bricks are pink and that stuff gets a little algae on the north side of the house, down low. And it’s always on the north side of everybody’s house around here, of course. And I just want to be able to not have to spray so violently to get rid of it. I don’t want to do any damage.

    TOM: Right. So, essentially, what you want to do is sort of kill it first.

    LOUIS: Right, right. Is there a product that I could buy just one bottle of or do I need several products?

    TOM: Louis, there’s product called Concrobium Mold Stain Eraser. Concrobium is spelled C-o-n-c-r-o-b-i-u-m.

    Now, Concrobium is a product that’s well known for killing mold. But the Mold Stain Eraser is the cleaning-solution version of that that will work on not only mold stains but algae stains and other sorts of tough staining issues. So, I would recommend Concrobium Mold Stain Eraser first. And then you can follow up with a preventative coating of the Concrobium Mold Control product, which will go a long way towards stopping any future mold from growing on those surfaces.

    LOUIS: Wonderful. So I guess that’s – it’s got to have instructions on the jug or whatever?

    TOM: Yes, I would follow the label directions for application.

    LOUIS: OK.

    TOM: And it’s had excellent reviews, works very well. And we know the company and we trust them.

    LOUIS: OK.

    TOM: Good luck with that project.

    LOUIS: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

    TOM: Well, you remember the old TV ad “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”? Well, it created a national catch phrase. But it’s actually a very real problem, especially as the sheer number of Americans get up there in age.

    So, now this idea, though, has gone high-tech with a couple of ways to prevent falls in the first place.

    LESLIE: Yeah. So when seniors fall, it’s usually because of medication errors or lack of activity. And those are two problems that you can avoid with new apps by Mobile Vitals that will track activity and remind you when it’s time to take your next pill.

    TOM: Yeah. The activity tracker is cool because it will even ping your loved ones when a senior hasn’t moved in a while. That can give you some peace of mind. I mean it’s good for people who have aging parents who are – that live alone or maybe if your parents are just home by themselves during the day. Perhaps they live with you. It’s nice to know that the activity tracker is keeping track of them when you can’t.

    LESLIE: Now, what’s really cool is the Mobile Vital apps were two of the many smart-home innovations that were unveiled recently at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. And they have even more features, like recording blood pressure, weight, even glucose levels so that any unusual activity can be spotted before it becomes a danger.

    TOM: Yeah. And talk about Big Brother. When that happens, the app will even send the data directly to a doctor for you, so it’s one less thing for you to have to remember to do in a high-pressure situation. They’ve thought it all. As the saying goes, there’s an app for that. And I can’t imagine things in life now that they don’t have an app for. So this is a pretty cool tool, though, especially if you have older parents like we do.

    LESLIE: Right.

    Rosemarie in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    ROSEMARIE: Yes, hi. I’m having a problem with the light bulb for the garage door. The light bulb keeps going out and I understand there’s a special one to use but I haven’t had time to check it out. Have you heard of such a thing?

    TOM: Well, sometimes with all the vibration associated with that operation of that garage-door opener, you can get a lot of vibration. Sometimes, that will ruin a standard incandescent bulb. There’s a type of bulb called a “rough-duty bulb.” You may have a hard time finding that in a normal hardware store or home center. I think a better idea is just to get yourself an LED light bulb. I think the LED bulbs are much more durable than incandescents, in addition to being much more cost-effective. And I think that will solve it.

    ROSEMARIE: Oh, OK. Thank you so much. I’ll try that.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Rosemarie. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Clara in Minneapolis, Kansas is on the line with a dryer-venting question. How can we help you?

    CLARA: Our dryer is in the basement – is the beginning part of the problem. So when we hook it up to the vent, the vent goes straight up.

    TOM: How far up does it go?

    CLARA: Well, it’s probably 8 foot.


    CLARA: And then it goes vertical – I mean horizontal – probably about 25 feet to the back side of the house.

    TOM: Wow. OK.

    CLARA: And then that’s where the exhaust comes out of the house. And we can get part of it cleaned.

    TOM: Is it a metal exhaust duct or a plastic exhaust duct?

    CLARA: It’s a metal.

    TOM: OK, good. Perfect. We’ve got a solution for you. It’s called a Gardus LintEater. And it’s a special brush that fits inside the dryer exhaust ducts and it’s on fiberglass rods. And as you …

    LESLIE: So it’s flexible.

    TOM: It’s flexible. And so what you do is you start with like 3 foot or 6 foot of the fiberglass rod, you hook it up to a drill and the drill is what spins it. You run it into the duct, pull it out a couple of times. Then you add another length of fiberglass and another length of fiberglass rod and so on.

    LESLIE: And it’s the coolest thing, because you will be amazed – both, I should say, amazed and disgusted – at the amount of lint that is going to come out of your vent the first time you do it.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s fun.

    CLARA: I imagine.

    TOM: Just Google it – LintEater, Lint-E-a-t-e-r – and you’ll find it.

    CLARA: OK.

    TOM: It’s a really handy tool to have. Once you have one, you can use it a lot. You can do it from the outside. They’ve got other attachments that help you get in closer to the dryer and so on but it’s a great product, OK?

    CLARA: OK. OK.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? If you don’t do it, you really need to be careful because all of that lint is sort of just building up in there and it could be a fire hazard. So you really do have to get on this.

    CLARA: Yeah. That’s what we were concerned about.

    TOM: And that’s actually their website, too: it’s LintEater.com. So check it out.

    CLARA: OK. That sounds great.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    You know, that’s such an important thing to do, Leslie, because there’s a lot of fires that happen in homes because of dirty dryer exhaust ducts. So, a good idea to keep it clean.

    LESLIE: It’s funny, I was just noticing the lint buildup in my driveway again and I was like, “Ah, it’s time. Time to get out there.”

    TOM: It’s time again. Yep.

    LESLIE: Barry in Florida is dealing with a plumbing situation. Tell us what’s going on.

    BARRY: Well, I replaced the sprayer in my kitchen sink. And I did – at the same time, I did a dishwasher and the dishwasher is working fine, no problem. And the sprayer, though, it’s been there 22 years. It just wasn’t spraying. I figured it was all clogged up, so I replaced it. And when I did, the new one – when I turn on the water – not the sprayer but the water – I get a bang-bang-bang like air in the pipes. But it’s been doing that for about a month now, waking everybody in the house up.

    So, I thought maybe I’d call you guys and see if you could help me figure out – I’m fairly handy – what I need to do. Either replace the whole thing again – and I replaced it with a brand-new one I bought at the hardware store.

    LESLIE: Barry, when you said that the sound is waking everybody up, is it happening on its own or only when you’re using that sink?

    BARRY: No, no. Only when you’re using the water. My wife told me that when I get up in the morning to make coffee, I wake her up by turning on the water. Only when you use the main water handle.

    TOM: Now, does it happen when you turn the water on or when you turn it off?

    BARRY: On. When you turn it on.

    TOM: On?

    BARRY: The whole time the water’s on it does that.

    TOM: Hmm. That’s interesting.

    BARRY: If I left it on for 20 minutes, it would do it constantly for 20 minutes. That’s why I don’t think it’s air.

    TOM: And the whole time it’s on. Yeah, so, I think you’ve got a bad washer in there somewhere.

    Now, if it happened when you were spraying and then you released it to turn the water off and you got banging then, that I would say is water hammer, because the water has a forward momentum in the pipes. And when you stop spraying the water, it keeps moving and bangs the pipes. That’s water hammer.

    BARRY: Ah, yeah.

    TOM: That has one solution. But if it’s happening just because you turn the sprayer on, then I think that the valve in the sprayer is bad and it’s probably vibrating somewhere in there. This happens sometimes with kitchen sinks. If you lift up the lever to turn the sink on, sometimes you get a kachunka-chunka-chunka-chunk (ph) kind of a sound.

    BARRY: Yeah.

    TOM: And that’s when you have a bad valve. And so I suspect that if you replaced just – you don’t have to replace the whole line but just the handle part of it. Try replacing that and see if it still does it. I think you’ve got a bad one there, buddy.

    BARRY: You’re talking about the handle in the hand-held sprayer.

    TOM: Correct. Yeah. And those are replaceable.

    BARRY: OK. OK, sure, yeah. Absolutely. OK.

    TOM: Alright, Barry. Give it a shot.

    BARRY: Well, I’ll try that. I didn’t think – that’ll be an easy fix if that’s the fix.

    TOM: And that’s what we hope for. Barry, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, have you hesitated to tackle a painting project because you really have a hard time landing on that perfect color? We’re going to share some tips to pick the right color, right out of the gate, after this.

    JONATHAN: Hey, this is Jonathan Scott, host of HGTV’s Property Brothers. Don’t let your home become a real-life money pit. Listen to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show with Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    If you like listening to this program, you can also like us on Facebook. If you do, you’ll get more prizes and more home improvement tips on your clock, whenever you want it. Follow us on Twitter, too. The handle is @MoneyPit.

    And give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Pete in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    PETE: Well, I’ve got lime deposits in my toilets and I’ve got probably five toilets in my house that I’d like to get them out of it. They’re around the upper part of the rim, where the water comes out, and then down in the bowl.

    TOM: OK.

    PETE: And I’ve tried LIME-A-WAY and I tried a vinegar soak. Maybe I just didn’t do it long enough but I’d like to find a way to get those lime deposits out of there and get my toilets looking nice.

    TOM: Have you tried CLR?

    PETE: Yes, I have.

    TOM: You have tried CLR and CLR didn’t do it either?

    PETE: Didn’t do it, no.

    TOM: Well, Pete, if the commercial cleaners like CLR and LIME-A-WAY are not working, there’s a couple other things that you can try but you have to be very careful. One of them is to use something that’s abrasive, like pumice or a rubbing compound. And you can try to abrade away the deposit.

    Theoretically, these abrasives are softer than the porcelain but you have to do it very carefully; you don’t want to rough the surface of the porcelain. Because if you do, it’ll get dirtier that much quicker the next time around.

    Some folks also use muriatic acid. I don’t like to recommend that because it’s pretty harsh stuff and you’ve got to be super, super careful when you use it.

    PETE: Yeah.

    TOM: But it is a possibility, as well.

    And then, the other thing that you can try is you did use vinegar but I don’t know if you mixed it with baking soda.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Because that helps.

    TOM: And that helps, as well. You kind of make it into a paste and let it stand for a while and then you rinse it.

    PETE: OK.

    TOM: So, there’s a couple of additional things that you can try.

    I also found a great article online. Whenever you find an article from a university or an extension service, it’s usually pretty well-researched. And if you just Google “removing mineral deposits and North Carolina Cooperative,” you’ll find it. And it’s an extensive article that’s a little old but has a lot of great suggestions in it. And specifically, it has solutions for the different types of deposits that you get on these fixtures, whether it’s rust, iron, copper, what kinds of stain it is and so on.

    PETE: That sounds great. Thanks so much. I really appreciate it.

    LESLIE: Well, painting is the easiest and least expensive way to completely change the look of your room. But unfortunately, it’s still something many do-it-yourselfers are shying away from.

    Now, the main reason is: too much of a good thing. The colors available in the paint aisle of your local home centers can really make your head spin.

    TOM: Very true. But if you can prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed at the rainbow of paint chips, you will find that a new coat of paint can do wonders to perk up a tired room. With us to talk about that is Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be here.

    TOM: So why do people always get that sort of deer-in-the-headlights feeling when they think about choosing a paint color?

    KEVIN: Have you ever seen the paint wheel?

    TOM: Yeah, it’s kind of overwhelming.

    LESLIE: Which one? I have like a dozen.

    KEVIN: And aren’t they all 300 colors? Four or five?

    LESLIE: Beautiful.

    KEVIN: Oh, no, way too much. Leslie, you are so right: it is overwhelming. And if you’re a guy, you’re at a bigger disadvantage because you probably are color-blind like me. It can be overwhelming.

    And I think one of the reasons is lots of choices, as you say. But whatever decision you make, you’re going to be living with it for a long time. You’re not going to want to repaint your walls every year, so you’ve got to pick that color that works just right.

    That being said, even though it may feel overwhelming, it is an inexpensive and effective way to make a big change. So people should not steer away from it.

    TOM: What are some tips for picking that perfect color?

    KEVIN: Well, I think you have to understand that color is basically style. And styles have trends. They come and go, right? And so, always be thinking about what are the trends that you’re seeing right now. And as it turns out, gray is sort of, for some reason, the big trend. People are using gray all over the place, different shades of gray. So, that is good to know.

    LESLIE: Fifty. Fifty shades of gray.

    KEVIN: That, too.

    TOM: Exactly.

    KEVIN: I’ve seen that for something else, I suspect.

    So it’s good to know that there are trends out there. You probably want to find them so that you feel like the job that you’re doing is going to be contemporary and well-received. The one caution there is that, obviously, because it’s a trend, trends change. So you may have to actually change with the trends over the coming years.

    TOM: Yep.

    LESLIE: Or utilize that trendy color in a smarter or smaller application so that if it does change or you tire of it, it’s easier and more manageable to do so.

    KEVIN: Well, you definitely can be thinking about accent colors and little places where you can dress up a room with just one color. And so think about some of the beautiful details that a lot of rooms have or that you can add.

    A ceiling medallion would be a great way to introduce a pop of color. Wainscoting is a beautiful architectural detail. We often think about it as painting it white or just off-white but why not give it its own color? It’s not the entire room but you can bring some of those trendy colors in through those things. Same thing with molding details and such.

    LESLIE: And I think one of the bigger trends this year – and we’ve been seeing it sort of recurring throughout this year and for the next year – is that the trend is to paint trim sort of in the similar color family to your wall color, maybe a shade darker with a different sheen, just to sort of bring in that color in a little bit more pungent or powerful way.

    KEVIN: We have worked with a number of designers who have done just that. And quite honestly, a lot of times we just leave those decisions to the designers because they really know what they’re doing. But just like you said, Leslie, a wall color is – call it a “bluish color” and then the trim is sort of a lighter, slighter different color of the blue. And the ceiling, yet again, maybe drop it down another tone or two. Play with it like that.

    And to my surprise, I would have that, “Oh, this is going to make a very busy room. This is not going to work.” Done right, it’s a very good effect.

    LESLIE: Soothing.

    TOM: Now, what about complementary colors beyond that? Is it true that opposites attract?

    KEVIN: Well, one of the things that the designers always talked to us about is this idea of complementary colors. And what that means is if you look at the colors on a color wheel, you pick one color from one side and then you look at the other side of the color wheel and that would be a complementary color.

    For example, red and green are on opposite sides of that color wheel. Now, that may sound a little bit Christmas-y if you think, “Oh, I’m going to paint the room with red and greens.” But it doesn’t have to be just a bold red or a bold green; you could be thinking about sage green for your walls and then the cabinets could be a dark cherry, which have the reddish hues. In that situation, you’re using that idea of complementary colors.

    TOM: So what if you are inspired by something else in the environment, something that you have in your home? Maybe it’s a drape, a cushion; maybe it’s a leaf, some color that you really find really resonates well with you and you want to match that. You try to match it up against the paper samples or is there a better way?

    KEVIN: Well, it’s a good place to start. You know, take some sort of a feature in the house that you love. And again, we work with designers who do this all of the time and say, “That is going to be the focal point right there.” And you might not have to replicate it perfectly but want to play off of it.

    And the good news is is that if you go to the home centers, the paint-mixing technology right now is so sophisticated that you can pretty much bring in a swatch of anything – that curtain, that pillow, another paint color – and give it to them. And they can do a really good job of matching that color or giving you a hue or two off of exactly that color so that you can now play off of that feature that you want to play up.

    LESLIE: And I think another interesting technology point is that so many of the paint manufacturers have on their websites – or have apps where you can sort of upload a picture of your room and then apply their paint colors to it, so to speak, in the applications so you can see it.

    KEVIN: Imagine the old process of looking at a room and putting up some test paint on the wall, in a little corner or something like that, and then trying to have to imagine what that entire room would look like and make all these big decisions. Well, flash forward to today and do just what you said, Leslie: take a picture and paint the room virtually. Boy, that really gives you a leg up on making those sorts of decisions without having to do all the messy work of getting out the paint can and putting it up on the wall.

    But I will say that’s a pretty good method, too, is to actually get it up on the wall. Get away from those small, little paint chips if you can. Use a much bigger paint chip or take a section of the wall – 3×5, 4×8 – and paint it there so that you can see it in the room, see how it adjusts to the light between morning, evening, during the day.

    TOM: Good advice. Kevin O’Connor from TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: My pleasure, guys.

    LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by The Home Depot. More saving, more doing.

    Up next, are you in the mood for love? Well, if not, bad lighting might be to blame. We’ll help you change up the lighting in your house, just in time for Valentine’s Day, next.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number to give us a call at today is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one of you lucky callers that we talk to on the air is going to win a Husky prize pack that includes an 11-piece screwdriver set and a 20-piece ratcheting wrench set. It’s all sleeker and easier to use than ever before, without sacrificing any accuracy.

    TOM: And it’s a prize pack worth $60. Going out to one lucky caller. Make that you. Pick up the phone and give us a call with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, Valentine’s Day is coming up and one thing you need to know to get your house ready is that lighting can make or break the mood. I mean it, guys. Seriously. If the lighting is not right, it’s not happening.

    TOM: So if you’re looking to set the stage for romance under your roof, a few changes to that lighting scheme might be in order. Start by creating balance. You want a combination of light fixtures and styles.

    So, for example, you could mix overhead lighting with task lighting that’s stationed near furniture and with accent lighting, like recessed or tracking lighting. Or sconces work well, as well.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, to add a touch of romance, you can go with soft pink incandescent bulbs in glass shades or lamps. And stick with wattage below 75 to keep the look soft. And don’t underestimate the power of dimmers. They can be your best friends.

    TOM: And don’t forget about nature’s mood lighting: natural light, that is. Whether you’re adding just soft daylight or the glow of the moon, mood lighting is as likely to come through your windows or skylights as it is from a lamp or a chandelier.

    LESLIE: Mike in Iowa is on the line with a venting question. How can we help you?

    MIKE: Yeah. I was listening to one of your shows earlier and you were talking about how the bathroom vents are vented into the attic?

    TOM: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

    MIKE: And I have that problem regarding that. I mean it’s right into my insulation; it’s not vented out by any means.

    TOM: Yeah, yeah. A very common problem.

    MIKE: I was wondering the best – yeah, what’s the best way to fix that problem?

    TOM: OK. So what you want to do is you want to install a duct – a vent duct – and you can use flex duct for this. That will take it from the bath exhaust fan to a discharge point.

    Now, where the discharge point is is going to be up to you. A lot of options. Typically, you can take that out to the nearest side wall, like a gable wall, and bring it right through the wall. And you would use a termination point – a discharge point. It’s like a piece of flashing that has a hood on it and lets the air get out and then snaps shut and it keeps it from getting wet.

    You could also take it and you could drop it into a soffit but you have to actually bring it through the soffit again, into a grid so that it’s not obstructed. So you can take the vent and drop it down so it points towards the vented soffit right out. Or you can take it up further and point it right at an existing roof vent. Now, I don’t like that as much because I think that the higher you try to lift that air, the less effective it’s going to be. But that is an option. You can bring it straight up and point it at an existing roof vent and let it exhaust there.

    MIKE: Well, my house is about six years old and I’m wondering – I’m paying pretty high energy bills regarding the heat.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Because what happens is when the insulation gets moist from all that moisture that’s being dumped into the attic, it completely cuts down on the R-value of the insulation. So you do need to get that vented outside, whether it’s through the siding with one of those trap doors that sort of opens out every time you’ve got it on or through the soffit. But you want to keep it the shortest run so that you can effectively move that air.

    Now, if you’re evaluating what’s going on with the insulation up in the attic, you really need to look at how much compression is there, what is the condition.

    Are you talking about pink fiberglass batts?

    MIKE: It’s got a white fiberglass.

    LESLIE: It looks like it’s blown in?

    MIKE: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You can add more blown-in, because you want it to fill up to the floor joists when you’re looking up in your attic floor. You want it to sort of reach the height of that bay and you can do that with more blown-in or what you can do is just take rolls of fiberglass and go perpendicular to your floor joists, just to sort of make up and add some oomph to the R-value. And that will really enhance your insulative value. But you do have to vent that outside.

    MIKE: OK. Alright. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Hey, do you ever feel like the second you put the cleaning supplies away, there’s another layer of dust covering everything in your house? Well, we want to help you discover a permanent solution for all that annoying dust, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Hey, are you hungry for more home improvement advice from Tom and me? Well, you can get more of it every day, right there in your Twitter feed. Just head to Twitter and search for our handle, @MoneyPit, hit follow and you’ll get some more prize opportunities, more tips, more behind the scenes, all in real time, live, as we post it. All you have to do is go to Twitter.com/MoneyPit.

    And while you’re online, you can post your questions in the Community section. And I’ve got one here from Michelle in Poughkeepsie who writes: “There’s a fine dust that seems to be coming from my heat pump that gets on everything. The heat pump has been looked at and cleaned and no one can find any problems. Any ideas?”

    TOM: Well, the first thing I would do is look at the filtration system. Most folks have basic fiberglass air filters but they do very, very little to trap fine dust particles. So, I would recommend that you consider upgrading your filter.

    Now, there’s a number of ways you can go with this. If you want to use a media filter, one that is made up of filter cloth, usually it’s sort of an accordion shape. It’s folded up to increase the surface area. Take a look at the many filters that are made by 3M. They really know what they’re doing and have done a really good job at creating a filter that’s pretty affordable, that’s far more effective than fiberglass.

    If you want to step it up from there, you could look at electronic air cleaners. Now, these are the most efficient filters out there. They’re going to trap even virus-size particles and that really gives you the ultimate in dust protection.

    But I would definitely look at the filtration system that you have on your system first. You’re probably getting that dust not being – it’s not being created by the heat pump. It’s just passing through it and that’s why you’re seeing it there. And if you step up the filtration system, I think you’ll find that that will go away and your house will be cleaner as a result.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you’ll have to dust far less. That sounds awesome.

    Alright. Next up, I’ve got one from Bill in Utah who writes: “My kitchen counter is Formica but I want to cover it with tile. How do I do that?”

    TOM: That’s a very doable project. I mean that’s – and that probably comes right out of your makeover tricks of the trade, right, Leslie? That’s one thing where you have a good, solid tile – a good, solid Formica countertop.

    LESLIE: Oh, geez.

    TOM: If you don’t have any rot in the countertop, the first thing – I guess that’d be the first thing I’d check for, right? Because so many times, we have laminate – especially where the faucet comes through, you get some decay and some delamination there.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: If you’ve got a really solid, well-adhered Formica laminate surface to that countertop, you can basically glue right over that.

    Now, there’s two ways to apply that glue. You can either use regular tile mastic that’s essentially troweled on with a glue trowel. Has little ridges in it to give the tile sort of something to bite into. Or you can use a product that is a self-stick tile mastic. Grace makes one called Bondera – there are others – where basically you peel off one side of the sheet, press it down on the countertop surface, peel off the other and literally stick the tiles to it.

    I would say that probably the most important thing for you to consider if you’re doing this project, though, is to plan the layout of that tile. Because so many times, people do this and they do it sloppily and they don’t think about the implications.

    For example, that edge of that countertop. How are you going to cover that? Bull nose is a type of tile that would work well there. And at the corners, you have to miter it. How are you going to cut those miters? So think through those sorts of details. Lay it all out dry before you start getting involved with any type of mastic. You will be a lot happier in the end.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And there’s also other ways that you can do it. You know, there’s a little – it’s like an L-bracket. It’s a metal strip. I think it’s actually used for specifically ending a tile run on a countertop front edge. And that you can sort of attach to the front edge of the countertop and then your tiles sort of rest on that so you get a nice, clean bottom edge.

    Be creative. Sometimes, some of those items are drywalling materials that have that same little bit so that it really gives you a clean finish. But if you’re thinking about all of those little next-step necessities – and then, of course, you want to seal your grout so you get a beautiful finish for the long term. You’ll end up with a great tiling project and something you’ll really enjoy doing.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. That’s all the time we have this hour but the show does continue at MoneyPit.com, 24-7, 365. You can also reach us by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2014 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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